Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night Poem Author

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night Meaning


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.



Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas published this powerful poem in 1951, and wrote these words as his father was going blind. The dying of the light is a reference to darkness -- actually losing sight -- and ultimately failing health, and the painful inevitability of death.

Yet, this poem is not gentle or dark. It is a strong invocation for us to live boldly and to fight. It implores us to not just "go gentle into that good night," but to rage against it. Even at the end of life, when "grave men" are near death, the poem instructs us to burn with life.

The poem's meaning is life affirming. It urges us to live life to the fullest and to never surrender. "Rage rage rage against the dying of the light" --  push back and against blindness, illness, death, and whatever is forcing you back in life.

Thomas is writing about his Father’s loss of sight and impending sickness, and in turn, his own relationship with his father and his own death. Dylan Thomas's father died in 1952, and tragically, Dylan Thomas himself died just a year later in in 1953.



Dylan Thomas was a heavy drinker and he suffered from alcoholism, dying at just 39. History has Dylan Thomas dying from drink. But a new theory suggests that his death was caused by his doctor who, "failed to diagnose pneumonia and treated poet for alcoholic condition."

Yet, even while Thomas and his Father were struggling with their health, this poem assents the value of fighting for life. Thomas argues, as Shakespeare did in Henry VI Part I, that we all need to: "Fight till the last gasp" (1.3.127).

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night is, therefore not just about fighting against the blindness of the old man or Thomas's own battles, but about all of us raging against our weaknesses, and the gradual loss of our fire, passions, and life.

The poem is written as a Villanelle and the title itself uses adjective (gentle) as adverb (gently), making the latent meaning even more present.  

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